Athanasius Contra Franciscum, Part I

I have, in the meantime, accurately read the beautiful intervention of the Bishop. 

Let me make a couple of preliminary observations: 

  1. Bishop Athanasius does not explicitly call the document heretical, or blasphemous. 
  2. Bishop Athanasius does not explicitly warn Francis about his heretical, blasphemous position. 

If there was a criticism that could be moved to this letter, it would be related to the points above. However, I do not feel I should move this criticism myself. Whilst truth must be proclaimed in season and out of season, I feel no difficulty at all in attributing Bishop Schneider’s choice to a prudent judgment. Clearly, this is not a man afraid of persecution. Please give him your most sincere prayers.

You might not read, in your lifetime, another criticism of a papal document as strong as this one from an “official” bishop. I note here that, to my knowledge, not even the SSPX has officially called the document heretical and blasphemous. I am sure this is a prudential judgment, too; but if you ask me who runs the risk of being too prudent, I would say “the SSPX”. 

Below is the text (first part). My emphases (and the segment titles) in bold. My comments in red. 


The paradox of contradicting interpretations of «Amoris Laetitia»

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation « Amoris Laetitia » (hereafter abbreviated AL), which contains a great spiritual treasure for Christian life in matrimony and family for our age [heavens, why does everyone praise the cream in a poisoned cake? Bishop Fellay did the same. I think it’s churchspeak for “I am about to punch you in the face”], has unfortunately in short order provoked contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate [the Bishop announces the line of attack: the document is ambiguous. Actually, the document is openly heretical and blasphemous. See above, “prudence”].

There are bishops and priests who have publicly and openly declared that AL has furnished an manifest opening to Communion for the divorced who have remarried, without asking them to live in continence.  Under this aspect of sacramental practice, which according to them would now be significantly changed, would truly consist the revolutionary character of « Amoris Laetitia ».  Interpreting AL in reference to irregular couples, one President of an Episcopal Conference has declared in a text published on the very website of that Conference:  « One treats of a measure of mercy, of an opening of heart, reason and spirit for which no law is necessary, nor is there need to wait for any directive or directions.  One may and one ought to put it immediately into practice ».

Such a view was further confirmed by the recent declarations made by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S. J., who after the Synod of Bishops in 2015 had written that the Synod had laid down « a foundation » for the access to Communion by the divorced who have remarried, « by opening a door », which was left closed in the preceding Synod in 2014.  Now, Father Spadaro in his own commentary on AL, says that his predication has been confirmed.  The same Fr. Spadaro is said to have been a member of the group which redacted « Amoris Laetitia » [the Bishop does not say that 2+2=4 here, as in “if Spadaro says this and he has collaborated to the document, the man has obviously followed Francis’ istructions”. The bishops does not say it; but make no mistake: he wants you to draw the conclusion, or make the addition, yourself].

A way open to abusive interpretations seems to have been indicated by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn himself, who, during the official presentation of « Amoris Laetitia » at Rome, had said in regard to the proposal of irregular unions:  « The great joy that this document gives me rests in the fact that it overcomes in a concrete way the artificial clear external division of “regular” and “irregular”. »  Such an affirmation suggest the idea that there is no clear difference between a valid and sacramental marriage and an irregular union,  between venial sin and mortal sin [ again: both the Bishop and his readers are aware that Schoenborn’s press conference has been explicitly indicated by Francis as the best guidance to interpreting AL. He who has ears to hear, let him hear]. 

On the other hand, there are bishops who affirm that AL ought to be read in the light of the perennial Magisterium of the Church and that AL does not authorize Communion for the divorced who have remarried, not even in exceptional cases.  In principle, such an affirmation is the correct one and the one worth of approval.  In effect, every text of the Magisterium ought to be, as a general rule, coherent in its own content with the preceding Magisterium, without any rupture. [To state that a document must be read in light of truth is not wrong, but it is not remotely good enough].

Nevertheless, it is not secret that in diverse places divorced and remarried persons have been admitted to Holy Communion, without the obligation of living in continence.  Some of the affirmations in « Amoris Laetitia » can realistically be utilized to legitimize the abuse already practiced for some time in various places in the life of the Church (sic). [some of the affirmations in AL are, realistically, blasphemous and heretical and meant to legitimise sacrilege. But as the Pope does not officially proclaim it, and prefers to introduce the heresy from the window, I will not expose myself to the accusation of slandering him].

Some affirmations of « Amoris Laetitia » are objectively open to a bad interpretation

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has invited all of us to offer our own contribution to the reflection and dialogue on the delicate questions concerning marriage and the family.  « The reflection of pastors and of theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest and creative, will help us to reach a greater clarity » (AL, 2).

Analyzing some of the affirmations of AL with an honest understanding [stop kidding yourself, Cardinal Burke!], as they are in their own context, one finds that there is a difficulty in interpreting them according to the traditional doctrine of the Church.  [this part is pivotal: it means that the context of the ambiguous affirmations is itself heretical; it creates a heretical climate, and the explosive blasphemies are correctly interpreted in this heretical context] This fact is explained by the absence of concrete and explicit affirmation of the constant doctrine and practice of the Church, [this is another one of the pivotal points: the Bishop states that if Francis had strongly and unambiguously stated that there is no change whatsoever from Familiaris Consortio, repeating the statements verbatim, this would have factually killed any ambiguous reading. Personally, I trust Francis to be, in fact, as duplicitous as to explicitly state the paragraph written here below and contradict it in the following statement. But undoubtedly, the heretical reading would have been made more difficult. Also, heresy is heresy no matter how many reaffirmations of catholci doctrine are contained in the same document.which is founded upon the Word of God and was reiterated by Pope John Paul II, who said:  « The Church, moreover, reaffirms Her own practice, founded upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion the divorced who have remarried.  These are those who cannot be admitted, from the moment that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church, signified and actuated by the Eucharist.  There is moreover another particular pastoral motive:  if these persons would be admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be lead into error and confusion about the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of matrimony.  Reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance — which would open the way to the Sacrament of the Eucharist — can be accorded only to those who, having repented of violating the sign of the Covenant and their fidelity to Christ, have been sincerely disposed to a form of life which is no longer in contradiction with the indissolubility of marriage.  That is, which implies, in the concrete, that when a man and wife, for serious motives — such as, for example, the education of their children — cannot satisfy the obligation of separation, « assume the obligation of living in full continence, that is of abstaining from the acts proper to married couples » (Familiaris Consortio, 84).

Pope Francis has not established « a new general norm in canonical form, applicable to all cases » (AL, n. 300). However, in footnote 336, he declares:  « Not even as much as regards sacramental discipline, from the moment that discernment can recognize that in a particular situation there is no grave fault » [see above: fist Francis states, then he denies what he has just stated]. By referring himself evidently to the divorced who have remarried, the Pope affirms in AL, n. 305:  « By reason of attenuating conditions or factors, it is possible that, within an objective situation of sin — which is not subjectively culpable or which is is not such in a full manner — one can live in the grace of God, one can love, and one can even grow in the life of grace and charity, receiving for such a purpose the help of the Church ».  In footnote 351, the Pope clarifies his own affirmation, by saying that « in certain cases, there might even been the help of the Sacraments ».

In the same chapter 8 of « Amoris Laetitia », the Pope speaks of « the divorced who live a new union, … with new children, with proven fidelity, generous dedication, christian commitment, conscious of the irregularity of their own situation and of the great difficulty in turing around without feeling in their consciences that one would fall into a new fault.  The Church recognizes situations in which « man and wife, for serious motives, — such as, for example, the education of their children — cannot satisfy the obligation of separation ».  In footnote 329, the Pope cites the document, Gaudium et Spes in an unfortunately incorrect manner, because the Council refers in this case only to a valid Christian marriage. The application of this affirmation to the divorced can provoke the impression that a valid marriage can be assimilated, not in theory, but in practice, with the union of divorced persons. [note here: the Bishop always says “the Pope states”, “the Pope speaks”. He attributes the heresy directly to him. He chooses not to say something like “footnote such and such, certainly misinterpreting the will of the Holy Father, states”… . You are supposed to know who is the culprit.]

The admission to Holy Communion of the divorced who have remarried and its consequences

« Amoris Laetitia » is, unfortunately, deprived of textual citations of the principles of the Church’s moral teaching in the form in which they were enunciated in n. 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, and in the Encyclical, Veritas Splendor, of Pope John Paul II, in particular in regard to the following themes of capital importance:  « the fundamental option » (Veritatis Splendor, nn. 67-68), « mortal sin and venial sin » (ibid. nn. 69-70), « proportionalism, consequentialism » (ibid. n. 75), « martyrdom and the universal and immutable moral norms » (ibid. nn. 91 ff.).  A verbal citation of Familiaris Consortio n. 84 and of the similar more salient affirmations of Veritatis Splendor would certainly make « Amoris Laetitia » unassailable on the part of heterodox interpretations.  [ this is the Leitmotiv again: literal, repeated quotes explicitly stating what is what would have suffocated any attempt to give the document a heretical reading even if ambiguities are present] Some generic allusions to the moral principles and doctrine of the Church are certainly not sufficient in a controversial matter which is of delicate and capital importance. [This is an open indictment of Francis’ modus operandi: generic allusions on one side, concrete emergency exits from the straight and narrow on the other side. This is certainly not sufficient in a matter delicate and capital importance. “What kind of Pope are you?”,”What’s wrong with you?” is here the message].

Some representatives of the clergy and even of the episcopate do affirm that even now, according to the spirit of « Amoris Laetitia »’s chapter VIII it has not been excluded that in exceptional cases the divorced who have remarried can be admitted to Holy Communion without it being requested that they live in perfect continence.

By admitting a similar interpretation in the letter and spirit of « Amoris Laetitia », one would have to accept, with an honest understanding and on the basis of the principle of non-contradiction, the following logical conclusions: 

[what follows is the most brutal condemnation of a papal document I have ever read from anyone, in any age. The Bishop veils it only very thinly by stating that this merely the reading of “some representative of the clergy”. However, he has already told you this is, honestly, the reading made possible in the document’s context. He who has ears, etc…].

The divine Sixth Commandment which prohibits every sexual act outside of a valid marriage, would no longer be universally valid if exceptions were to be admitted.  In our case:  the divorced would  be able to practice the sexual act and they are even encouraged to it for the purpose of conserving reciprocal “fidelity”, cf. AL, 298.  One would be able, therefore, to exchange “fidelity”, in a style of life directly contrary to the expressed will of God.  Moreover, to encourage and legitimize acts which are in themselves (in se) and always contrary to the will of God, would be to contradict Divine Revelation.

The divine word of Christ:  « That man not separate what God has untied » (Mt. 19:6), would, therefore no longer be always valid and for all married couples without exception.

It would be possible in a particular case to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion with the intention of continuing to directly violate the Divine commandments:  « Thou shalt not commit adultery » (Exodus 20:14) and « That man not separate what God has united » (Mt. 19:6; Genesis 2:24).

The observance of these commandments and of the Word of God would hold in these cases only in theory and not in practice, inducing thereby the divorced who have remarried « to fool themselves » (James 1:22).  One would, therefore, be able to have faith in the divine character of the Sixth Commandment and in the indissolubility of Matrimony without, however, the corresponding works.

The Divine Word of Christ: « He who repudiates his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if a woman leaves her husband and marries another, she commits adultery » (Mk, 10:12) would, therefore, not longer have a universal validity but would admit exceptions.

The permanent, conscious and free violation of the Sixth Commandment of God and of the sacrality and indissolubility of ones own valid Matrimony (in the case of the divorced who have remarried) would, therefore, no longer be a grave sin, nor in direct opposition to the will of God.

There can (sic) be cases of grave, permanent, conscious and free violation of God’s other commandments (e.g., in the case of a style of life of financial corruption), in which there would be able to granted to a determinate person, on the basis of attenuating circumstances, access to the Sacraments without exacting a sincere resolution to avoid in the future the acts of sin and of scandal.

The perennial and infallible teaching of the Church would no longer be universally valid, in particular the teaching confirmed by Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, n. 84, and by Pope Benedict XVI, in Sacramentum caritatis, n. 29, according to which the condition of the divorced to receive the Sacraments is (the practice of) perfect continence.

The observance of the Sixth Commandment and of the indissolubility of marriage would not be an ideal realizable on the part of all, but in a certain manner only for an elite.

The intransigent words of Christ which intimate to men the observance of God’s commandments, always and in all circumstances, even when accepting some considerable suffering, or the Cross, for this purpose, would not longer be valid in their truth:  « If you hand is an occasion of sin to you, cut it off and throw it away, because it is better for you that one member perish, than that thy whole body be cast into Gehenna » (Mt. 5:30).

To admit couples in an « irregular union » to Holy Communion, by permitting them to practice the acts reserved to married couples in a valid marriage, would be equivalent to the usurpation of a power, which, however, does not belong to any human authority to exercise, because one treats where with a pretense to correct the very Word of God.

[the parts I have evidenced all state the same: this document contains heresy and blasphemy; it spits in the face of Our Lord; it is the attempt to deny His Commandments, it is an insult to God. The Bishop does not say so explicitly. But the logical chain of argument, “if you read the document as it can honestly be read in its context, this is the conclusion you must draw”, does not leave any doubt in the intelligent reader as to what the bishop means]. 

(to be continued…)



Posted on April 27, 2016, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thank you… The highlights and commentaries are very helpful

  2. Mundabor,
    yesterday, when you published your first reaction to the good bishop’s statement, I wrote a comment concerning the missing condemnation of AL as heretical and blasphemous. I decided not to post it for the time being, because I expected you to write more about it, but also because I wanted to read it more closely myself.

    Now, after both things have happened, I am glad I waited, because you have said it better than I would have.

    I thought the SSPX response far weaker than Bishop Schneider’s, by the way. He went as far as he realistically could in his situation, having to consider not just reprisals from modernists, but also the willingness of other bishops to join or support him, which would be very low if he openly called the Pope a heretic. His job is to build a front of “official bishops” who are opposed in substance to AL, and if he has to use diplomatic language to do it, then so be it. He has to appeal to more moderate elements than the SSPX. By contast, the SSPX has a far-reaching freedom of action, which, in my opinion, they could have done more with. They are the ones who could have called out the heresies and blasphemies by name. Bishop Fellay is a well-meaning, intelligent and capable man, but he is a diplomat by nature. Sometimes, he might be slightly too cautious. (The other two SSPX bishops, who have been a little more direct and confrontational in the past, could be the needed counterweight to this possible weakness, if Fellay values their input.)

    Bishop Athanasius, however, has done exactly what should be expected of a bishop in his position. He has spoken the Truth, clearly and unambiguously, as directly as possible and as prudently as needed. We are undeservedly blessed to have someone like him. Now it is the other “conservative” bishops’ turn… At least they need to echo his call for an official clarification or correction, but I doubt we will see this happen…

    • I agree.
      Fellay is the perfect diplomat. I would prefer more of a Crusader. But again he is going about it explicitly enough (can’t stop thinking of a ship with a hole at the bottom…).
      But yes, the words “heresy” and “blasphemy” should have come too, if you ask me.

    • It would be very helpful to me to read a treatise by a respect-worthy theologian or any other knowledgeable Catholic on what the Holy Bible teaches us about speaking truth. I know and follow our Lord’s command to say yes for yes and to say no for no, and this has always been my heart-felt preference as far as I recall, but even He sometimes said nothing when questioned, or spoke in parables.
      On the other hand, we are told not to worry ahead of time, on what and how we are to say things, so long as we have faith and obey the Word of God.

      Archbishop Schneider could easily and would instantly be accused of all the things the Pope accuses Traditionalists of, in the current “mess” (radical moral relativism, anti-intellectualism) and under the rule of the anti-Tradition, populist, worldly and self-contradictory pope of surprises who calls for and creates mess as though it is a good thing. A person lacking respect for a rational and well-founded argument doesn’t follow the rules of a proper debate, and delivers below-the-belt punches with a clear conscience, and with a sense of moral and intellectual superiority. They will use the Word of God in a cherry-picking manner, as they always have done. They will even deliberately change the meaning of parables.

      Opening his mouth at this time to say yes for yes, and to say no for no would probably be preferable to Archbishop Schneider. I am sure he is not concerned for himself, but for our souls, which will suffer even more, should he be forced to go completely quiet. This might such a painful weight to carry for him, if it so difficult for each of us.

      This is an awful (impossible) time to have a debate. There is hardly anyone left, who approves of rational thought and logic, not to mention unchanging doctrines. Even the most clear mind and the most trusting, simple, pure heart, seem forced to become a politician.

    • I disagree that he is not saying things as they are.
      If he did, he would be as culpable as Burke.
      The message is delivered in a calibrated way. But it is delivered.

  3. Sorry Mundy, I’m tired of the long winded, vague, pandering, shallow responses given by the bishops when it comes to an open heretic in the Chair of Peter. Maybe we’ve just been so used to the spiritual abuse for so long that we’ll take the few drops of water given to us, even if they are covered over with cagey and obtuse paragraphs.

    What ever happened to St. Nicholas punching Arius in the face? What ever happened to calling things as they are? ‘Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no”. I’m tired of the diplomatic, walking on egg shells, let alone the utter verbosity that is explained away with co-opting a Cardinal virtue: prudence. When in the world will any prince of the Church grow a spine and call this man what he is? Without the need for an interpreter?

    If this is Athanasius against the world, the world will crush him with this softball of a response. Too bad you aren’t a bishop or Cardinal, Mundy…THEN we would have a hero to follow!

    God bless you sweet man for giving us the hidden diamonds in this response:+)

    • “Sweet man” is “gay”, please avoid😉
      I understand your frustration, but I do not share the analysis.
      It would be interesting to know what names exactly St Athanasius called Pope Liberius. But then again not everyone is a saint.

    • I forgot:
      I would never become a bishop.
      I would end up in some lost place in the Tierra del Fuego.

    • But also note I am prudent. I do not invite persecution. I do not expose myself willingly to the rockets of the Gaystapo.

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